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Redmon prevails in sheriff's race

For the first time this year, the Graves County Clerk's Office used the new e-poll book, an electronic voting information scanner, (see inset for detail) that utilizes the voter's driver's license to alert election officials about whether a person is eligible to cast a ballot, where they have been assigned to do so and other information. Voters sign in electronically as well. Precinct election clerk Al Chandler (sitting front) said the machine, which was also used at Trace Creek Baptist Church, saved a lot of time usually spent searching through a thick, three-ring paper binder.

TOM BERRY/The Mayfield Messenger

BY SHELLEY BYRNE sbyrne@mayfield-messenger.com

Voters have re-elected Dewayne Redmon as Graves County sheriff.

Redmon faced off against six write-in candidates for the race: Michael Corey Apperson, Jason Clark, Billy Howard Harris, Robin L. Holmes, Gregory Allen Jones and Davant Ramage.

Redmon received 4,852 votes. The total number of write-in votes cast for sheriff was 5,769, Graves County Clerk Devonda Wilford said.

"I appreciate the confidence that the voters have once again put in me," Redmon said.

He also mentioned his pending court case, in which he has been indicted on charges of drug possession and official misconduct.

"We'll just wait until the court system plays out to see how it goes any further," he said.

Clark finished second with 2,695 votes.

He is a former police officer and combat veteran from Symsonia who is currently working for the U.S. State Department at the embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

"First, I'd like to extend my sincere congratulations to Sheriff Dewayne Redmon and his family," Clark said by electronic message from Iraq. "I would also like to say thank you to all those that supported my family and me in this election and campaign process. We are beyond grateful. I am very proud of how we ran our platform in a positive message and hope Graves County continues to move forward. Thank you."

Of the write-in candidates, Ramage was the only one currently serving as a law enforcement officer. He is the chief deputy sheriff.

Ramage finished third with 1,872 votes.

"I would like to say congratulations to Sheriff Redmon," Ramage said. "It has been a very difficult past few months. Thank you to the voters who got out and cast their votes. I look forward to campaigning again and talking with all of you then. Thanks again to all my supporters and congratulations again to Dewayne. May God bless all of us and be with our sheriff."

Other candidates and their totals were: Bill Howard Harris -- 552; Robin L. Holmes -- 163; Michael Corey Apperson -- 85; and Gregory Allen Jones -- 63.

According to the cumulative report from the county clerk's office, 13,799 Graves County voters cast votes. That included both those who voted on Election Day and those who voted via absentee ballots. With 25,737 registered voters, that meant the total turnout in Graves County was 53.6 percent, higher than in any nonpresidential election in recent years, Gills said.

Although the turnout percentage was not immediately available, Wilford said early in the day Tuesday that she could already see it was significant.

"It's been a very, very busy day," she said. "The turnout looks like it is going to be good. We had people standing in line at 6 o'clock (in the morning) to vote."

Some of the longest lines were at the Graves County Library, where a precinct worker told election officer Kim Gills that at time the lines were 10 deep. The clerk's office sent additional voting booths to both the library and to Trace Creek Baptist Church so voters wouldn't have to wait so long to use a booth, Gills said.

At Liberty Baptist Church in Folsomdale, a poll worker called the clerk's office to request more books of ballots. Each book contains 50 ballots.

"At 12:30 they said they had gone through six books, so we printed 150 more and had to run them out there," Gills said.

She said she believes it is the first time in roughly 12 years since any precinct asked for additional ballots to be printed.

By the end of the day, poll workers at the Lowes precinct at Lowes Elementary and the Melber precinct at the Melber Civic Center also had to ask for additional books of ballots.

Two precincts used new electronic poll books, which resemble tablet-style computers. Voters scanned in their driver's license or identification and signed electronically before being given a ballot.

"We're going to all of those in May," Gills said.

This time, she said, she decided to try them out at her largest city and county precincts.

It normally takes Gills a day and a half to prepare voter rosters for all 30 precincts, Gills said.

"I don't know how long it will take next May, but these two took me 20 minutes," she said, adding that voters liked them because it is faster to use them than the printed rosters.

The only problem reported at any Graves County precinct was with a handicapped-accessible voting machine for the Murphy precinct at Purchase Ford. It has also had problems getting up and running before, Gills said. The machine is normally never used, but it must be available for voters if needed.

Wilford and Gills both arrived at the clerk's office at 4:50 a.m. to make sure precinct workers were in place and polls could open on time at 6 a.m. They began counting write-in votes about 8 p.m. and finished a few minutes before midnight.